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Ensuring a Safe Summer Around Water — Tips from Intermountain Health and Primary Children’s

Intermountain Primary Children's community health programs say supervision is critical to keeping kids safe around water

(PRUnderground) May 27th, 2024

Summer is a great time to enjoy swimming, boating, and splashing with the kids. But water can also be dangerous, especially for young children. Drowning is the second leading cause of preventable injury death for Utah children under age 14. Most drowning deaths happen between May and August, and in different types of water: pools, bathtubs, lakes, rivers, canals, and more.

That’s why safety experts at Intermountain Primary Children’s say you need to watch your kids closely around water and make sure they wear life jackets.

“Drowning is the second leading cause of preventable injury death for Utah children under age 14, with 70 percent of drowning deaths happening between May and August,” said Doug Thomas, director of community health at Primary Children’s Hospital.

But, Thomas said, not all drowning deaths are related to summer activities.
“About 1 in 5 happen in bathtubs, and another 28 percent happen in pools, and 34 percent in lakes, rivers, canals and other bodies of water, according to the Utah Department of Health & Human Services.”

“Adults should never leave young children alone in the tub or around pools or open water, and even older children can be at risk for various injuries around the water,” Thomas said. “The best prevention comes from a Coast Guard-approved life jacket and appropriate adult supervision.”

Here are some tips to keep your kids safe around water, whether it’s in your backyard, at a rec center, or in the great outdoors:

  • Always have an adult supervise children around water. Don’t get distracted by your phone, a book, or a conversation. Assign a “water watcher” who can keep an eye on the kids and wear a visual cue, like a lanyard or a silly hat, to show who’s in charge. You can take turns with other adults.
  • Empty kiddie pools and buckets after use and store them upside down. Even a small amount of water can be a drowning hazard for toddlers and infants.
  • Teach your kids how to swim. Swimming is a valuable skill that can save lives and promote health and fitness. Look for swimming lessons in your area that are suitable for your kids’ age and ability.
  • Use Coast Guard-approved life jackets instead of water wings. Water wings can deflate or slip off, leaving your kids vulnerable. Life jackets are designed to keep your kids afloat and secure. Make sure the life jacket fits well and is appropriate for the type of water activity.
  • Install fences and locks around pools and hot tubs. If you have a pool or a hot tub in your home, make sure it’s enclosed by a fence that’s at least four feet high and has a self-closing and locking gate. This will prevent your kids from accessing the water without your permission or supervision.
  • Avoid water hazards while hiking or camping. Teach your kids to stay away from rivers, streams, canals, and other bodies of water that can be fast, deep, or cold. If your kids fall into rushing water, don’t jump in after them. Call 911 and try to reach them with a rope or a branch.
  • Check the water first if your child is missing. If you can’t find your child, look for them in the nearest water source. Seconds count when it comes to drowning prevention. If you find your child in the water, get them out and start CPR if needed.
  • Learn CPR. CPR can save lives in case of a drowning or near-drowning incident. You can take a CPR course online or in person and learn how to perform chest compressions and rescue breaths on children and adults.
  • Be careful in open water. If you’re going to a lake, reservoir, or river, be aware of the risks of open water. The water can be very cold, which can cause cramps, shock, hypothermia, and breathing problems. Don’t swim alone or let your kids swim without an adult. Wear a life jacket and avoid alcohol.
  • Don’t try to save someone in danger by yourself. If you see someone struggling in the water, don’t dive in to rescue them. You could put yourself in danger too. Instead, throw something that floats, like a life ring, a cooler, or a beach ball, and call for help. If you have a rope or a long stick, you can try to pull them to safety.

Injury prevention is part of Intermountain Health’s more than $600 million Primary Promise to create the nation’s model health system for children. This historic campaign is a partnership between Intermountain Health and its communities, and has raised more than $500 million to date.

For more information about child safety and injury prevention, visit

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see

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